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First Buddhist Women

Poems and Stories of Awakening
Paperback Book
February, 2006
$36.95 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

Anyone interested in the position of women in Buddhism should read this contemporary translation of and commentary on the spiritual poetry of the first female disciples of the Buddha. Murcott presents a biography of each of the Buddhist nuns and clear translations of their spiritual questions and insights. Through commentary and storytelling, Murcott traces the journey of the wives, mothers, teachers, courtesans, prostitutes, and wanderers who became leaders in the Buddhist community. Their poetry beautifully expresses their search for spiritual attainment and their struggles in society.

Meditate on the unconditioned.

Get rid of the tendency

to judge yourself

above, below, or

equal to others.

By penetrating deeply

into judgment

you will live at peace.


The poetry and stories in this book provide historical insight into how Buddhism became one of the first religions to welcome women and offers inspiration for anyone looking for spiritual role models. Diana Winston’s moving introduction is a personal testament to the power of this book to change lives.

“Her translations are simultaneously down-to-earth and mystical. But best of all, she brings the nuns to life. She retells the stories of their lives in detail and re-translates their poems and songs of awakening.” —Diana Winston, author of Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens

“A clear message of liberation, untainted by gender discrimination, enabling us in the twentieth century to brighten our world with saneness and clarity. Susan Murcott’s translation of the Therigatha and her valuable and insightful commentaries on the verses, along with her descriptions of the social context, are bright, warming, and welcome lights for all of us who long to hear the voices of our sisters in the Dharma... An essential book... a collection to be read, re-read, and pondered.” —Karuna Journal


Publisher’s Description: 

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